Monday, November 9, 2009

The epic post where I vent about breast vs. bottle

::steps up on soapbox for a very important (and long) public service announcement::

Let me preface this by saying that I was formula fed as a baby, and so was my husband. I think we've turned out just fine. Just like the millions of other people who were formula fed as infants. Right? Cool.

However, in recent years, the mantra that is drilled into expectant parents' heads is "breast is best". It's even printed on the freakin' formula can! (Note to formula company: Thanks for trying to make us feel better about using your product ::eye roll:: )

So, how can you, as a pregnant woman, declare that you do NOT want what is "best" for your baby? Well, folks, let me tell you. That declaration comes with a huge side of old fashioned guilt for many women. How do I know this? Let me explain...

When I was pregnant with Mini Me, I was one of those aforementioned individuals bombarded with the message that to be a good mom, you *had* to breastfeed. Even though I had no burning desire to, I just went along with it. Yup, I'm going to breastfeed. (However, I added the caveat that I was perfectly fine with formula feeding and I really thought I was--this will be important in a minute).

So, when Mini Me was born, I dutifully brought her to the breast and attempted to feed her. For 2 days in the hospital, every time she fussed, I brought her to my breast despite the fact that I was in excruciating pain, bleeding and just hating it. Still, I put on a happy face and declared that I was breastfeeding. woo hoo!

Until we got home. Then it all changed. There was no nursery to send her to at night. No lactation consultant there with me the instant I needed her. Just me, the baby, and pain. Add to that: a jaundiced baby who had NO desire to nurse and would just sleep every time I brought her near my breast, yet would SCREAM bloody murder if I wasn't trying to feed her. Between the pain, exhaustion and frustration (for all of us), I broke down. I remember the moment so clearly. I was in tears, and told hubby to go get a bottle of formula. I felt like a complete and total failure. Why was I devastated when I had already declared that I was perfectly fine with formula? Social pressure, plain and simple.

While Mini Me (and, by extension all of us) may have been happier once she had a belly full of formula, I was miserable. I felt incredibly guilty. I felt that I had given up too quickly and didn't try hard enough. But, looking back, it was the right decision for us. There's no way to fully comprehend how difficult becoming a parent is, much less learning all those new skills while sleep deprived.

Fast forward to present day... still the same "breast is best" message. This time, I remember the guilt I felt and decided I would give it another try. This time, I would not give up so easily since I KNEW how hard it was going to be. OK, let's go for round 2.

When Little Sister was born, I have to admit that I still had some reservations. I mean, I bought bottles, "just in case". It seemed that I was setting myself up to give up. And, I did waffle a bit in those early days. Here's the thing. I tried the breastfeeding thing. It went well for a few days.

But, I have to admit something: I felt no more 'bonded' with LS than I did with Mini Me. For me, there was nothing really special about it. I really wanted her to have the benefits of breastmilk (more on that later), but didn't really LOVE breastfeeding the way some women claim to. (I say claim, because I'd be willing to bet that not as many women love it as that say they do...just sayin')

Anyway, when little sister started to have some weight gain issues, and the pediatrician suggested just pumping for 24 hours to make sure my supply was sufficient, I obliged. And, you know what? Other than the time it took, I was happy. I didn't have to worry about how much she was getting. I *knew* she was taking enough, because I could measure it in a bottle. I could look into her eyes as she ate. She could hold my finger. Bottle feeding worked for us.

So, once we had established that my supply was sufficient, I didn't put her back to the breast. I could have worked with a lactation consultant to fix her latch issues. But, I didn't want to . I was happy with the way things were. She started gaining weight and was doing well. So, I spend a few hours throughout the day pumping. It's working for us. It's not ideal or convenient by any stretch of the imagination (it would be fine, if I only had the baby to deal with, but...well, you know) but it is manageable...most of the time.

Great, your thinking, right?

Um, nope.

See, even though Little Sister gets beastmilk, apparently it's not good enough for some holier than thou types. In some circles, unless your child is attached to your breast for the better part of the day, you don't qualify as a 'breastfeeding' mom. Um, okie dokie.

But, what's worse is the constant explaining I have to do. Why do I feel the need to explain my decisions to total strangers? I have no idea. And, really, why do random strangers feel that it's any of their business whether I'm breastfeeding or not? Sorry, but baby in hand or not, my breasts are not topics of public conversation (this blog post excluded, of course).

And, even at the pediatricians office, I'm asked if I'm breastfeeding or bottle-feeding. Here comes the babbling about bottle, but breastmilk, blah blah blah. A better phrasing of the question would be breastmilk or formula. Maybe I'll put that in the suggestion box.

So, what's the point of this incredibly rambling post? It is simply that I wish that people, especially other moms, would just respect each others decisions and recognize that what works for you may not work for someone else. Yes, baby on the breast is the most "natural" way to feed a baby, but you know what? Who cares?

Unless you see me feeding my 6 week old a Jack & Coke in her bottle...STFU. Thank You!

1 comment:

amo said...

I think i may print this out and hand it out to anyone (and everyone) who asks me if i'm breastfeeding or 'feeding your baby that disgusting formula' again. (yes, someone actually said that to me- awesome, i know!)YOU ARE AWESOME!!! As a matter of fact, i may put this on a T-shirt and wear it around LA.